Kamairicha Producer – Miyazaki Sabo

Hand roasting tea leaves

Miyazaki Sabo is like a whirlwind—an initiator, a pioneer, an influencer; the farm impacts others and keeps going, keeps moving on to the new stage, never staying in the same spot.

Miyazaki Sabo started organic tea farming in Gokase in 1983, the first to do so in the town.  The spark that prompted this decision arose from the death of a good friend of Akira-san’s (current owner) mom, due to an accident involving agricultural chemicals.  His family also observed how his mom got a skin rash when helping to spray pesticides.  Because they experienced the negative impacts of agricultural chemicals on human body, they chose to switch to organic farming.

It was rough road at the beginning.  People in the town did not think that they could survive as an organic tea farm.   But Miyazaki Sabo kept experimenting to prove that organic farming could grow safe and tasty teas, and that he could make a living as an organic tea farmer.  Today, most farmers in the town are organic farmers as well.

Spring in Gokase Town
Spring in Gokase Town

Akira-san, the leader of Miyazaki Sabo, always move like a wind.    This is because he manages more than 140 tea farmlands!  Japanese agriculture faces a serious lack of successors, and tea farmers in Gokase town are in the same situation.  Miyazaki Sabo now takes over abandoned tea farmlands in the town.

As a consequence, his farm fields have a variety of tea cultivars.  With all of these varieties, he started making teas that match up with the characteristics of each cultivar.  Do you think his approach is quite opposite from other big organic tea farmers in and outside of Japan?  Miyazaki Sabo now makes a variety of teas.  Starting from Kamairicha green teas, the firm makes Hojicha, Bancha, Oolong tea, Black tea, Herbal teas, and others.  In organic farming, worm-eaten tea leaves are unavoidable.  And such leaves are not welcomed to make green tea.  So, he turns these unused tea leaves and bitter taste cultivar leaves into unique taste fermented teas.  And his unceasing efforts have won him multiple prizes both in and outside of Japan!

Miyazaki Sabo attracts people.  His tea appeals to tea lovers in Japan, and SONO ORGANIC is enthusiastic about introducing his teas to tea lovers around the world.  During the harvest and busy season, those fans come from around Japan and help with the harvesting and tea making work.  His teas, the beauty of Gokase nature, and his open mind fascinate people.  If you have a chance to visit the booth of Miyazaki Sabo at tea events, trade shows in major cities in Japan, you will often find local fans standing at the booth on behalf of Miyazaki Sabo, helping with tea sampling and explaining the tea products to other attendees as if they themselves work for the farm.

At the wedding of his staff and business partner together with his staffs and fans
At the wedding of his staff and business partner together with his staffs and fans

Akira-san, the leader of Miyazaki Sabo, is generous, loves agriculture and plants more than anyone else, believes failure teaches success, has unlimited overflowing curiosity toward tea making, and is always willing to try new experiments.  He supports his staff in starting their own tea farms, lobbies in support of Gokase town, helps handicapped people in making tea sweets to achieve their own financial independence, and enjoys weeding to clean up local streets and paths.  His new venture is expanding beyond tea leaves, recently working together with other firms and local institutions on joint blueberry leaves tea product development.

Leaving behind the old, facing the new, spinning out the established, bringing in the inexperienced, Miyazaki Sabo continues moving forward.

Kamairicha Cake
Kamairicha Cake

 

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